August 13, 2015 – Retired astronaut Joe Tanner will be the guest speaker at the Little Thompson Observatory in Berthoud, Colorado on Friday, August 21. The title of his talk will be “Exploration.”
Joe Tanner grew up in Danville, Illinois and studied at the University of Illinois where he graduated in 1973 with a BS degree in mechanical engineering. Soon after graduation, he joined the Navy and earned his Navy pilot wings in 1975 before serving as an A-7E pilot with Light Attack Squadron 94 (VA-94) aboard the U.S.S. Coral Sea. He finished his active service as an advanced jet instructor pilot with Training Squadron 4 (VT-4) in Pensacola, Florida.
In 1984 Tanner started working for NASA Johnson Space Center as an aerospace engineer and research pilot. His primary flying responsibilities involved teaching the astronaut pilots Space Shuttle landing techniques in the Shuttle Training Aircraft and instructing the pilots and mission specialists in the T-38. In addition to his flying duties, Tanner held positions as the aviation safety officer, the head of the pilot section, and the Deputy Chief of the Aircraft Operations Division (AOD). He has accumulated more than 8,900 hours in military and NASA aircraft.
Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in March 1992, Tanner reported to the Astronaut Office in August 1992. He completed one year of initial training and worked in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory before being assigned to his first mission. Tanner also served as part of the Astronaut Support Personnel team at the Kennedy Space Center, supporting Space Shuttle launches and landings, and as EVA Branch Chief. A veteran of four space flights Tanner has logged over 1069 hours in space, including over 46 EVA hours in 7 space walks. He served as a mission specialist on STS-66 in 1994, STS-82 in 1997, STS-97 in 2000, and STS-115 in 2006.
Tanner retired from NASA in August 2008. Currently, Tanner is a Senior instructor in the University of Colorado Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department in Boulder, Colorado, teaching graduate students project management and systems engineering in a project team environment.
The observatory doors will open at 7:00 p.m. and the presentation will start at 7:30 p.m. Weather permitting after the presentation, visitors will be invited to look through the observatory’s large telescope at various celestial objects. Public star nights are held the third Friday of each month, except July, when the observatory is closed for annual maintenance. No reservations are necessary for these nights.
If you have questions, call the observatory information line at 970-613-7793 or check the LTO web site at www.starkids.org.